Modern Fix

THE HAUNTED – interview by mike bushman

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Modern Fix (MF): Hey, how are you?
Per Jensen: I ’m all right.

MF: Cool, I saw your show here in L.A. How did the North American tour go?
PJ: It was really good, a lot of people at the shows. L.A. was one of the highlights of the tour because of the venue itself, a very nice place. It was a really good show in L.A.

(Per of course is talking about The Palace, because we all know the other ‘P’ venue is the sorriest excuse for a live venue in Hollywood) – editor

MF: Was this your first outing with The Haunted?
PJ: No, we were in North America before, but this tour was quite a lot bigger because of the greater diversity in the billing with like four different styles of music in one package so, of course, that’s going to attract a lot more people. I always enjoy going to the states. It’s always good.

MF: What were the touring conditions for you guys? Do they just throw you all in one bus?

PJ: We shared a bus with the first supporting act, Lamb of God. It was a little crammed up but we managed though. It was pretty tiny this time around. The only kind of relief you could have was to go into your bunk, into your bed and stay there until you came to a venue. It could be a little annoying in the long run because the bus was not particularly huge.

(NOTE: 5 members in The Haunted + 4 Lamb of God = 9 men and a driver)

MF: So those were the living conditions? The bus was your home?
PJ: Yeah that’s how it is. Once in awhile we’ll have a day room if we haven’t showered in a few days. That’s the big difference between Europe and the States. In Europe they usually have showers at the venue and in the states they almost never have. The hygiene is not top priority, you could easily say that.

MF: I imagine it gets pretty funky. I doubt they have laundry service.
PJ: That’s something we have to take care of too. We usually do laundry once on a tour. Like I said, the hygiene is not the best on a bus like that, and if one guy gets sick, the whole bus is sick a couple days after. That’s the thing you can count on, you go on tour, you’re gonna get sick. A couple days into the second week you start getting the flu, but those are just the conditions. That’s how it always is. Especially in the States where you tend to crank up you’re A.C.’s so ridiculously high. It’s not like a breeze it’s more like a small storm in your bunk every night. That totally takes me out. In Sweden we don’t have A.C. so we’re not use to that.

MF: Were there any problems with the bus or security at the venues?
PJ: Security at the venues? No, I didn’t see any problems this time around. There may be some violent securities once in awhile. I’ve seen a lot of shit happen. People who don’t get the idea why they’re there. They don’t know people are there to have a good time. They’re just there to beat somebody up or something, but this time around it was pretty good.

MF: How about fans? Do you get much time to talk to fans after the shows?
PJ: I always try to go out after the show and meet up with people. If you’re in a band, people like appreciate what you do. I mean, it’s the least you can do is to go out there meet people, show them you’re just a regular guy, you know? That we’re on the same level as the audience. We’re not about trying to be fucking rock stars.

MF: In Sweden you won the best hard rock Grammy, right? What does that mean to you?
PJ: I think it means a lot more to people around the band than to the actual members of the band. Personally, I haven’t even seen the Grammy. I don’t know what it looks like. We were on tour when the Grammy awards were held. We were on tour in Hamburg or something when we got the information. It was pretty cool. We had a good night. We had a little party there. People got a little too drunk on stage, but that’s what happens. We didn’t expect to win that one at all. We were nominated with Hammer Fall and Hammer Fall sells a lot more albums than we do. I don’t know how it works in that states, but usually around here, Sweden, Denmark, if you’re nominated for a Grammy you can count on the band with the biggest label, the band that sells the most records, is always going to win the Grammy, but this time was like the exception to the rule.

MF: It works the same here. It’s a popularity contest.
PJ: It’s like the whole fucking record industry meet up once a year and lick each other’s asses, but this time around I think everyone got a big, big surprise that we actually won that one.

MF: It’s really cool that they awarded it to you guys.
PJ: Definitely. We’ve seen a big difference here in Sweden press-wise. All the magazines and all the newspapers that didn’t give a shit about The Haunted a couple months ago all suddenly start calling us all the time. That’s good for the publicity of the band, but it also shows how fake the whole fucking music industry is.

MF: But it is a good achievement. Who are some drummers you look up to?
PJ: If we’re talking metal, I totally grew up with Slayer and Exodus. Obviously thrash metal wise my two major influences are Tom Hunting and Dave Lombardo. That’s the two drummers who probably shaped my playing and still are. I still enjoy listening to each drummer. But I listen to a lot of jazz here at home: Coltrane and a lot of sixties jazz music where you can find some really fine drummers. So to name names: Tom Hunting, Dave Lombardo, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams. Those four drummers are probably my biggest influences and, of course, Gene Hoglan. I discovered him a little later in the late eighties with Dark Angel. Gene Hoglan is incredible.

MF: He’s impressive.
PJ: And a very nice guy too. I really have high respect for Gene. Awesome.

MF: What do you hope to accomplish with The Haunted in the future? What’s the impetus behind the drive to create more and tour more and play more?
PJ: Once you start it at an early age, playing music, it’s just there. I don’t think it’s gonna disappear. You just have that… urge, and the interest in music itself. It’s hard to really lay out in words. It just sticks with you. Music will always be there for me whether it’s going to be metal or whatever. I choose to play metal since it’s the most fun to play. I have a lot of aggressions in me and metal is definitely the ultimate way to get some of that shit out of the system. Nothing comes close to playing a metal show. It’s all the craziness and the whole vibe around it. It’s just something you can’t escape from once you’ve been caught in it.

MF: So it’s like therapy for you in a way then?
PJ: It is like some sort of therapy. Especially playing the drums since it’s a very physical instrument. I definitely get relief from playing the shows and recording. I mean, there’s a huge difference between playing shows and recording albums. Recording albums is like a statement. Something that’s going to last. Something you’re going to have to live with for many years to come.

MF: I wanted to ask you about the art work in the album. Particularly the receipt on the back cover from the Guns and Supply store. Who came up with that?
PJ: Funny that you mention that because I’m very proud of that one too. The guy who did the artwork for the album [Andreas “Diaz” Pettersson] we more or less gave him free ends because he’s a very talented guy. We gave him the title and why we had the title, “The Haunted Made Me Do It,” and he sort of came up with the whole artwork. He’s a very talented guy and I’m very happy with it. It’s very cynical, but it does somehow tell the truth too, doesn’t it?

MF: It’s spooky looking at the purchases of guns, mace, handcuffs and what not all on that one receipt.
PJ: And it’s totally like, thank-you, have a nice day, go out and slaughter.

MF: There’s not access to guns and military equipment in Sweden like in the U.S.
PJ: That’s probably why we’re so amazed by the American system because here in Scandinavia nobody owns guns, man. It’s like; you don’t own a gun here unless you’re in a club. If you’re in a shooting club you might have some kind of a rifle. Nobody owns a gun around here. It’s not a part of the mentality. You don’t own guns. You don’t need guns to protect yourself either. If the criminal is not going to come to you with a gun then what do you need a gun for?

MF: I wish it was the same here in the U.S. I really do.
PJ: Yeah, I wish too because you hear all this fucking shit happening like every other week some kid pulls a gun from his mother’s purse and pulls the trigger and kills somebody. Just once is too much. Just one life wasted like that is too much. For us, being Scandinavians, it’s weird. That’s the only way I can put it. It’s a weird mentality with all those weapons, you know?

MF: And after shit happens people, the press, look for something to blame besides the easy access to weaponry.
PJ: Over here we kind of laugh at all the trials. Especially the Judas Priest trial. It was hilarious. I couldn’t believe it. I heard that even recently Slayer has had some problems too.

MF: Yeah, they have a wrongful death suit against them.
PJ: I’m happy I’m not in any of their shoes. I hope nobody takes our album title like that. A title like that could easily cause a lot of problems if anything like that were to happen. It’s supposed to be a cynical and funny statement. And that’s hopefully how people will take it.

MF: So what’s next on the agenda for The Haunted?
PJ: We have a lot of festivals especially around here in Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, Belgium. We have quite a lot of shows to take care of during the summer and we’re gonna try to write songs in between so hopefully we’ll be back in the studio in November or something like that, and then hopefully we’ll have something new out by March of next year.

MF: I’m surprised you find the time.
PJ: I’m surprised we haven’t started doing something yet. But once you get home from a tour you just need a rest. You need a rest from the other guys in the band too, you know? You got to get your space every once in awhile, keep your distance so you don’t get too much bad blood. Basically what it’s been for us is touring, coming home, having a rest for a couple weeks and then we’re off to somewhere else. We haven’t really had the time. We haven’t had a practice room either. We haven’t had a practice place for half a year now. That’s pretty ridiculous isn’t it?

MF: Well, yes, a little.
PJ: Winning a Grammy, touring the whole world and we don’t even have a practice space. That’s how Sweden is. It’s pretty tough to get a practice room. We got kicked out of our old one. It’s going to be redone into office buildings or whatever. There are so many bands coming out of Gothamberg you really have to struggle to find a practice space.

MF: Do you find the people there to be supportive? Are they happy for the band’s success?
PJ: Yeah, we had a totally excellent sold out show when we played here last time. We had a very good Swedish tour. We played fourteen shows in fourteen days here in Sweden.

MF: Are there two brothers in the band?
PJ: Yeah, twins.

MF: Oh my. How’s that? Is there added friction on tour because they’re brothers?
PJ: Oh yeah. It’s a typical twin relationship, you know, it’s love, hate. They’ll have an argument and be about to kill each other one minute and then be the best of friends next. I mean, for me, I enjoy watching them fight you know? They’ll fight about anything. They’ll always find something to fight about.

MF: Well, sibling rivalries aside, I hope things continue to go well for you and are there any last words you’d like to add?
PJ: Thanks to all the people who came to our shows on the last U.S. tour and hopefully we’ll be back very soon to deliver more thrash for the people.